A Milwaukee lawyer sentenced for stealing more than $301,000 from his clients will lose his law license for four-and-a-half years. The case, called one of the most serious matters a referee for the Office of Lawyer Regulation has seen, was fraught with allegations of hundreds of thousands of dollars of theft, fraud and other misconduct against the attorney Michael Krill of Michael M Krill Law Office.
In a stipulation, Krill plead no contest to 24 counts of misconduct in the OLR’s third amended complaint. The alleged violations included distributing client money held in trust without his client’s permission, lying to the OLR and helping a client defraud a third party by preparing forged and fraudulent documents.
The opinion the state Supreme Court issued in the case on Thursday said Krill had transferred more than $301,000 he was holding in a trust account to banks in the United Kingdom and China and then issued himself thousands of dollars in checks.
Other counts of misconduct alleged that Krill had set up a “straw man” to buy his Milwaukee condominium when it went up for auction at a sheriff’s sale, forged a promissory note for $16.2 million from Echo Bank in South Africa and stolen money from investors.
Krill spent 30 days in jail for some of the behavior and was ordered to pay more than $301,000 in restitution.
The referee in Krill’s case described it as one of the most serious cases he has seen. The OLR originally asked the court to revoke Krill’s license, but it settled on a three-year suspension.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court disagreed with the recommended length of suspension.
“We determine that a three-year suspension is insufficient given the extremely serious nature of the misconduct,” the justices wrote in the opinion. “Moreover, we consider the audacity and scope of the misconduct extremely troubling.”
Instead, Krill will lose his law license for four-and-a-half years, retroactive to August 2017, when the court temporarily suspended his license because it believed Krill’s continued practice of law was a risk to the public and the administration of justice.
The high court also ordered Krill to pay about $23,000 in restitution to two clients, make satisfaction of a judgment as a condition of any future reinstatement and pay the full costs of the proceedings, which come to about $21,250.
“We emphasize that Attorney Krill will remained barred from practicing law in Wisconsin unless and until he proves his fitness in a formal reinstatement proceeding,” the justices wrote.
Krill said he wasn’t aware of the decision when called on Thursday morning. He said he would have to read the decision and return the Wisconsin Law Journal’s request for comment later.Follow @WLJReporter